ThePiano.SG aims to build an inclusive community of piano lovers in Singapore and has been holding weekly Pianovers Meetups at The URA Centre for the past two years. Each week, people from all backgrounds gather here to play the piano and listen to piano music, as well as to connect.
This evening, Jessica, Hiro and Gavin met Sng Yong Meng, ThePiano.SG’s Founder, for dinner at Maxwell Road Food Centre. Jessica was seen playing the pianos at Tanjong Pagar Centre earlier and Hiro gamely invited her to Piano Park @ URA Centre to join the group for Pianovers Meetup. It is always useful to bond over delicious food and this evening was no different! Having filled their tummies with delicious local food, the group made its way back to The URA Centre to start the evening programme.
Yong Meng gave an introduction of ThePiano.SG to the attendees and described its vision, mission and activities. The idea was to allow the Pianovers – our affectionate name for piano lovers – to understand what we stand for and have a sense of belonging to the community. Yong Meng took the opportunity to announce that the next Meetup, happening on Sunday, 5 August 2018, will be National Day-themed. To coincide with National Day, all Pianovers are encouraged to play NDP-related pieces during the Mini-Recital.
While Yong Meng got busy setting up the equipment, Pianovers wasted no time in interacting and connecting amongst themselves. Uncle Albert shared a light-hearted moment with Gavin, before Siew Tin joined the group. Meanwhile, Jessica, Yuqing and John had their own conversation. As more people arrived, more engagements could be seen. It was really heartening to see people chatting and connecting with one another. This was certainly not lost on Yuqing and Kenneth Guan, who were enjoying a great chat, before they were joined by Grace Wong.
The Mini-Recital kicked off this evening with two pieces from Gwen. Polovtsian Dance, by Aleksandr Borodin, was used in the opera "Prince Igor". Unfortunately, when the composer passed away in 1887, the work was still uncompleted. This was despite the fact that he had been writing for a decade! Wine, Woman and Song, by Johann Strauss II, has an interesting story. The title is based on a saying that goes back to a very long time ago. "Who loves not wine, woman and song, remains a fool his whole life long."
Gwen was followed by Gavin, who played No. 2, Frühling "Spring", No. 3, Das Ringlein "The Ring" and No. 4, Bacchanal “Merrymaking” from the Six Polish Songs, arranged by Chopin's friend Franz Liszt. Chopin was best known for his solo piano pieces. However, he did have 19 songs, set to Polish texts and written for voice and piano. Liszt took six of the songs, and rearranged them for the piano. He called them Six Chants polonais, S.480. Since then, this set has been very popular and has been regularly performed during concerts and recording. Chopin dedicated No. 3 to Maria. Did you know that in 1836, Chopin received Maria’s mother’s approval for their marriage, but her father objected, ostensibly due to Chopin's poor health? Their relationship ended in 1837.
Siew Tin went up to the piano next, and performed 铁窗 by 陈佳明. This song was published in 1995 album 遗憾. 陈佳明 was described as “新加坡李宗盛” (Singapore’s Li Zong Sheng, a reference to the famous Taiwanese songwriter), and also wrote the famous 城里的月光, which was performed by 许美静. Both 许美静 and 陈佳明 are Singaporeans and have contributed much to Singapore’s music scene.
Albert was next and he performed two pieces tonight: 想你想断肠 by 王云峰 and 诉衷情 by 姚 敏. The first piece was performed by Teresa Teng and recorded in her album 小城经典. Teresa had an illustrious career in singing; however, she unfortunately died from asthma in 1995.
Our youngest Pianover, I-Wen, 5 years old, played three pieces tonight, Red Indian Dance, Mickey Waltz and March of the Little Bears.I-Wen has been improving! This evening, she was able to introduce herself very well and the pieces that she was going to play. She is now able to speak very confidently. I-Wen was very happy after her performances and Pianovers saw her jumping up and down multiple times. We were all very happy for I-Wen and are glad that public exposure has done her lots of good. Keep it up, I-Wen. We will support you during your piano-playing journey!
Adrian Huang performed Take On Me by Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, and Pål Waaktaar. This popular song was performed by Norwegian synthpop band A-ha, and was published in 1984 and the music video was special as it used a combination of pencil-sketch animation / live-action in a technique called rotoscoping. This video was so well-received, it won six awards — Best New Artist in a Video, Best Concept Video, Most Experimental Video, Best Direction in a Video, Best Special Effects in a Video, and Viewer's Choice. This music video was also nominated for two others, Best Group Video and Video of the Year. As of July 2018, the music video has over 680 million views on YouTube.
Kenneth Guan also played a piece from Chopin, known as Nocturne in C# minor, Op. Post., KK IVa, No. 16. This piece was meant as a dedication by Chopin to his sister, Ludwika Chopin, as an exercise before she began to study his second Concerto. There is a history to this piece. This nocturne was also famously played by Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp, who was sent to a Nazi concentration camp after the death of her husband in a bomb raid in 1943. Amon Göth, the commandant, ordered her to play for him on his birthday and was very impressed by her performance of this nocturne. He spared both her and her sister's lives.
Grace Wong played Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, 2nd Movt by Beethoven. Grace is one of our regular Pianovers and she has just taken part in the last "Hair for Hope" event, which is an initiative from the Children’s Cancer Foundation. It is the organisation’s signature fundraising event. Already into its 16th year, this is Singapore’s only event that involves shaving of the head. It is meant create public awareness of childhood cancer and to raise funds. It also serves a public purpose, that is, to show children with cancer, as well as their families, that the public is with them through the difficult journey. It also serves to build a supportive community for these children and their families.
Chris came up next and got the audience to guess the songs he would be playing in the upcoming medley. The audiece was game to participate and got all the names right. It turned out that Chris played "Feather Theme (from Forrest Gump)" by Alan Silvestri, "All I Ask of You" by Andrew Lloyd Webber, "I Dreamed a Dream" by Claude-Michel Schönberg, "Sun and Moon" by Claude-Michel Schönberg and "Love Story" by Francis Lai.
Teh Yuqing also played a piece from Chopin - Mazurka in B flat major, Op. 7 No. 1. During his lifetime, Chopin wrote a total of at least 59 Mazurkas. These pieces (called mazurkas) were based on the traditional Polish folk dance of the same name. The interesting thing to note is that although Chopin based his music on traditional mazurka, he had successfully transformed them into a new genre known as a "Chopin genre".
Jessica delighted the audience with her rendition of If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys. This piece was inspired by the 2001 death of Aaliyah, the terrorist September 11 attacks in New York City, and other different events in the world as well as in Keys’ life. Fittingly, this song is about “how material things don't feed the soul." Keys had said, “It was such a sad time and no one wanted to believe it. It just made everything crystal clear to me — what matters, and what doesn’t.”
John, who is native of Korea and working in Singapore, joined us for the first time this evening, and delivered his debut performance tonight - Kiss The Rain by Yiruma. Do you know that Yiruma is originally known as Lee Ru-ma? The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario, Canada has placed Yiruma’s pieces around Grade 7 in terms of their movement and reach. Separately, Apple’s iTunes Store regards Yiruma a World Music or New Age artist.
Hiro played Etude, Op. 10, No. 12 ("Revolutionary Etude") by Chopin, who had meant for this piece to be dedicated to his friend, Franz Liszt. Revolutionary Etude was composed in 1831, and was the last of his first set, Etudes Op.10. It was noted that the piece originated from the humiliating defeat of the Polish Revolution. As Chopin wrote with a heavy heart, he was reported to have said, “All this has caused me much pain. Who could have foreseen it!”
Gregory performed Can You Feel The Love Tonight by Elton John. This song was featured in the film, The Lion King, which was released by Disney in 1994. It won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It also earned Elton John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The Lion King was so popular that it became the highest-grossing movie in 1994. It is also the highest-grossing traditionally-animated film of all time. incidentally, The Lion King Musical is running in Singapore at this time. It will have its final performance on 23 September 2018.
Following the conclusion of the Mini-Recital, the Meetup moved into the Open Segment, and we took the group photo first. Every week, this is a time for jamming and sharing.
As people jammed on the pianos, the audience clapped in encouragement. Adrian was very excited, and shared with many that he was planning to play pieces from Boyzone, Westlife, Petshop Boys and other boy bands in the upcoming Meetups. Meanwhile, Yuqing and Grace even showed some of us a preview of a duet piece that they were preparing to play soon. As Pianovers Meetup #87 concluded, it was time to say goodbye again. However, Pianovers are all eagerly looking forward to next Sunday’s session. See you all again at The URA Centre!